Mauk family opening Downey home to the public

DOWNEY - Are you a model train hobbyist? an antique collector? A gardening enthusiast? Do you enjoy learning more about your neighborhood? If you share any of these interests, the Downey Symphony Guild invites you to join them for "An Afternoon of Hidden Treasures" at the unique home and property of Gene and Mary Hauk on Sunday, April 28, from 2-5 p.m.

In addition to the opportunity to stroll the grounds of this charming, half-acre-plus homestead, there will be refreshments, live music and boutique items for sale.

Since acquiring the property in 2000, Gene and Mary have developed the grounds and buildings into one of those unique treasures that surprise the visitor at every turn.

Mary is an avid gardener and antique collector who loves to decorate with the imaginative use of everyday objects and items of whimsy. Old mailboxes are turned on end to hold potted plants. A metal horse trough surrounded by flowers is now a koi pond. The property has numerous fruit trees, and every year Mary picks her own apples to make homemade apple pie.

Husband Gene, owner of Hauk Security Systems, does the carpentry, plumbing or electrical work needed to bring Mary's ideas to life. As a longtime member of a model train club in Santa Fe Springs, Gene is also building a train setup in a special room that was once a carport.

An antique clock and lanterns hang on the walls, and signs over doors say "ticket office" or "Downey Depot." Off at one end is a serious historic artifact that came with the property - a decades-old, five-foot wide hand lathe with belts and gears that still turn.

Gene and Mary's main house with its garden-like front yard won a Beautification Award from the city of Downey in 2004. At the doorway stands the welcoming moose who wears a different costume for each season.

For Easter, she was Esther the Moose dressed in spring finery. She wore a colorful frock and matching pink beribboned bonnet while holding a fancy basket of colored Easter eggs. After the holiday, the wooden greeter has become Merle the Moose. He is dressed for farming and is holding tools. For the symphony guild event, Mary says that he will be dressed as a butler.

Behind the main house is a smaller house, and a small barn-like structure painted in traditional red with white trim. Meandering down the flower-bordered paths, visitors pass through a gate into a vegetable garden, and then through another gate to the koi pond. At the back of the property, across from the train station, is a stately dwelling known a the Plantation.

Gene's cleverness and woodworking expertise is evident throughout the property, and amusing signs help the visitor find the way. A bare wall on one side of their patio is made more interesting with a decorated faux doorway and window. Gene also recycled an old door from the original Woman's Club of Downey clubhouse as a cover for access to electrical work.

There are several other patios amid the greenery and gardens that offer a place to relax and stay a while longer. Delicate purple flowers poke up through a brick pathway, and lush groups of lilies border a fence near the koi pond.

The Downey Symphony Guild is pleased to present this unique fundraiser. They ask that you come dressed comfortably, wearing low-heeled walking shoes to enjoy the different walking areas.

Food will be served. A donation of $12 for adults and $5 for children (10 years or younger) will benefit the Downey Symphony Orchestra and the Music in the Schools program.

To make a reservation or for more information, please call (562) 861-8507. The Guild requests that you make a reservation by April 22.

********** Published: April 11, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 52